Venturing into a new business in Nigeria can be exciting and challenging at the same time. The exictment of finally living your dreams may soon be wiped away with reality of harsh business conditions in the country.

Nigerian lawyer and Africa’s leading makeup entrepreneur Tara Fela-Durotoye has successfully navigated the uncharted waters of starting a new course of business in a country as Nigeria.

Tara shares her story on how she found her passion and the challenges she has faced thus far.

1.  How She Started House Of Tara

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Tara Fela-Durotoye is a Nigerian lawyer turned Africa’s leading beauty and makeup entrepreneur. Tara started House of Tara at the age of 20, from her living room, while she was an undergraduate at the Lagos State University back in 1998.

Tara launched Nigeria’s first ever bridal directory in 1999, and in 2004 she opened the country’s leading beauty academy. Today, Tara has over 3,000 representatives spread across Nigeria and 14 stores to her name and she is steadfastly dedicated to realising her vision of building a globally respected beauty company of African origin.

Tara made the Forbes’ list of 20 Young Power Women in Africa, 2013 and was also nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Tara remains an inspirational role-model and mentor to make-up artists and aspiring beauty business owners across Africa.

2.  How Tara Found Her PassionImage result for tara durotoye
Tara acknowledged that “creating a business that impacts and generates income, developing micro entrepreneurs who will grow their businesses and employ more people so as to make the Nigerian economy better is what’s most important” and fuels her passion. The society didn’t really have a place for entrepreneurs not to talk of a female entrepreneur at that. With her education, she was expected to earn her living being a lawyer, but the young Tara had to follow her dream.
“I was in secondary school many years ago and a man came to speak to us. He came to speak to us as an entrepreneur, that is, as a business man. He was in advertising and because he was creative, I found him interesting. He made me interested in business….  I eventually went to the university and I studied law. As an undergraduate, while I was still in school I started a business. I started with just N15,000 (fifteen thousand naira).”
She later trained as a makeup artist of Charles Fox. According to Tara, her mother was her major source of inspiration while growing up:  “She was a fantastic woman, very fashionable woman. I grew up seeing her adorn herself and I liked looking at her through all that process. I didn’t know that a seed was being sown in my heart.”

3.  Challenges She Faced

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Every startup entrepreneur has his own share of challenges and House of Tara was not any different. According to Tara: “As a start up, we faced challenges with raising funds. In Nigeria, you need to be able to get financing and raising funds was a big problem.  Also, our industry is an informal one and as pioneers, we could not find standards to copy. It’s easier when you see something you can copy but when you have to think it through and make it up as they come along, it’s not easy.

4.  Why You Should Be Different

For Tara, she believes you should “Stay true to yourself, stay true to what you are trying to achieve, otherwise you get distracted. Before you come out of your house you have to decide, yes this is what I want to do. You still need counsel but you should be able to apply counsel to your own decision to be able to take insightful steps.”

The impact Tara’s startup organisation has had on the lives of people cannot be waved off. Speaking about the impact her entrepreneurial journey has had in the country, Tara says: “For us it’is the impact we are making that is most rewarding. The jobs… there are many people who are looking for jobs today and the beauty industry has given an opportunity for young people who are very excited about beauty, and you know Nigerians are very fashionable and love beauty. We have given many people the opportunity to start up something as a business, to be business owners, to start up their own businesses and to make money from it but also to be financially independent and many them have had to employ one or two people as well and I think that gives greater joy, for us.”